How To: Buying Your First Home

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Purchasing a home comes with lots of lengthy contracts and tedious paperwork. For first-timers, the process can undoubtedly be overwhelming. We’ve dwindled down the most important things to consider before you make the commitment to become a homeowner. 

For young Americans, the prospect of buying their first home can be a daunting one. This is for good reason – for most families, buying a home is one of the biggest investments they will make in their lifetime. Luckily, if you do your homework, it doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Before you even step into a prospective house, here are a few things you’ve got to know.

Primarily, it is critical that, as a homebuyer, you have a thorough and in-depth understanding of your finances. This means a lot more than just knowing what your mortgage payment is going to be. Your finances include future taxes on your home, your energy bill, Homeowner’s Association dues, repairs and beyond. It is critical that you are very comfortable with these estimates, and a good real estate agent will make sure you fully understand these financial implications. 

But what makes a good realtor? A few important questions to consider are how long he or she has been in the business, how many homes have they closed and sold, and whether or not they understand the area in which you are looking to buy. 

Further, it is important that you know your own priorities and what you are looking for in your first home. It is likely that this will be your residence for years to come, so do your homework regarding the area in which you are trying to live. Important factors include the crime rate of the neighborhood, the number of recent foreclosures, and the market values of other homes in the area. Driving by at different times of the day & night is also a good idea. I have also known buyers who want to meet their neighbors prior to moving into a house.

Separately, if the community in which you are buying has a Homeowner’s Association, there is a whole other set of circumstances to consider. Your HOA will essentially be like a local government, so it is important to consider the rules that they have outlined in their Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&R’s) which describe the regulations surrounding what you can do with your property. You should also be comfortable with the monthly dues that you will be paying, as well as how frequently the HOA will be assessing your property. 

Once you have done your due diligence and have found a property you think might be “the one,” ensure that you have a full home inspection completed by a competent inspector in order to avoid being surprised by any expensive renovations once you move in. 

Ultimately, the road to homeownership can be a bumpy one, especially for first-timers. But as long as you are willing to be diligent in picking your realtor, understanding your finances, and assuring the welfare of your future home, it can be an incredibly fruitful and rewarding venture.